Nearly two-fifths of UK car buyers plan on buying an electric car with their next purchase | NTT DATA

Wed, 22 September 2021

Nearly two-fifths of UK car buyers plan on buying an electric car with their next purchase

  • New research from NTT DATA finds that 39% of UK car buyers intend to purchase an electric vehicle 
  • The UK government has committed to phasing out new purchases of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 
  • Research finds that nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents who drive a diesel vehicle want to transition to electric for their next car
  • Whilst 58% of respondents who earn over £60,000 per year plan to buy an electric car, only 34% of those earning under £30,000 per year have the same intentions

New research released today by NTT DATA UK, a leading IT services and consultancy provider for the automotive industry, reaffirms an upward trend in greener purchasing habits amongst UK car buyers. Nearly two-fifths (39%) plan to buy an electric, HEV, MEV or PHEV vehicle with their next purchase, while only 13% of respondents plan to acquire a diesel vehicle.

Sustainability has become a hot topic in the automotive industry. With ambitious plans to reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions by at least 68% by 2030, the automotive industry has a crucial role to play. Earlier this year, the UK government launched a £20 million research and development competition, calling for innovative ideas for zero-emissions vehicles. The competition is part of its commitment to phase out petrol and diesel cars and vans, and for all vehicles of this type to be zero-emission at the tailpipe by 2030.

NTT DATA’s research revealed a palpable shift in purchasing habits, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of those who previously purchased a diesel vehicle looking to transition to electric. This shift is attributable to multiple factors, including the recent ban on the sale of diesel vehicles by central UK government by 2030, improvements in electric and hybrid vehicle performance, and the wider environmental trend towards being greener.

Consumers believe electric cars are unaffordable

Electric vehicles are only becoming more popular, but there is one disrupting factor which continues to dissuade consumers. Electric vehicles have long been considered more expensive than their equivalent combustion engine models because of the fixed price of batteries. Research showed that whilst 58% of respondents who earn over £60,000 per year are planning to buy an electric car, only 34% of respondents earning under £30,000 per year have the same intentions.

While over 55s have previously been hesitant to buy electric vehicles due to ‘range anxiety’, now over half (57%) of respondents in this age group plan on buying an electric vehicle. Meanwhile, only 35% of 18 to 25-year-olds intend to do the same. Gen Z are often touted as the ‘Climate Change Generation’, yet the upfront costs of buying an electric vehicle are acting as a barrier. To tap into this younger, under-serviced market, the automotive industry needs to consider alternative purchasing models, such as shared ownership, or introduce more innovative financial products such as subscriptions to provide more options for these consumers.

Shopping habits will remain the same

Despite the drive towards a greener future, shopping habits look set to remain largely the same. One change, though, is a growing trend away from showrooms and test drives; only 70% of respondents who plan to purchase an electric vehicle want to arrange a viewing at a dealership showroom and test drive the car before proceeding with a purchase. This means almost a third of those planning to buy an electric vehicle are happy with the information available online and have no desire to test drive the car before purchase. The research also found that just 34% of respondents will purchase a new car within the next two years, with the majority (60%) planning to purchase a new car in more than 36 months’ time.

Nick Smith, Head of Manufacturing, Automotive and Services at NTT DATA UK commented: “The results of this research confirm that the automotive industry is experiencing a shift in consumer preferences precipitated by social and product changes. Consumers are changing their purchasing habits and understand the need, and benefits, of transitioning to electric vehicles. However, younger buyers are being locked out of purchasing electric vehicles, largely because of their expense.

“It’s clear that the automotive industry needs to consider how electric vehicles can be made more affordable for young buyers. There is growing demand for electric vehicles and dealerships must react accordingly. Introducing varied purchasing models is one option for enabling the industry to tap into this younger market, and may also convert current non-purchasers into potential buyers.”

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